OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District Board of Education today (July 14) approved the acceptance of a bid for sod replacement at Joe Wilber Field and allowing a volunteer to prepare the field for the sod installation.
The board nearly didn’t get to the resolution as the meeting erupted into a shouting match between members Dave White and Fran Hoefer.
Board member and local farmer John Dunsmoor had previously volunteered to donate his time and equipment to disc and prepare the athletic field for the new sod.
However, when he entered the Education Center’s Board Room today, he was greeted with a multiple-page document that would formalize the agreement between him and the district.
That precipitated a heated debate among the board members present. Sean Madden was not present.
Mike Stanley, district attorney, pointed out the agreement would protect the district.
However, Dunsmoor felt that it shifted too much liability on him.
“I don’t get it. I’m helping the district out Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ I’m trying to do a good deed and do a better job than we were going to do,” he said.
But he shouldn’t be responsible if someone, in a year from now, gets hurt playing on the field, he added.
The agreement is only pertinent to the time Dunsmoor works on the field, Stanley pointed out.
There is a sprinkler system under Wilber Field that doesn’t work Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it’s useless, Dunsmoor said. Would he be liable if he damaged it, he asked rhetorically.
“You’re putting a legal document in front of me; this is crazy. I’m trying to be a good citizen, good volunteer and I’m doing it as a volunteer for Buc Boosters, myself and the school district, whoever,” he said.
“Once this is done, we take responsibility for the field. That leaves Mr. Dunsmoor out of the loop,” White said.
“Absolutely,” Stanley agreed.
“I thought this was a work together thing. But now it looks like put everything on Johnny’s lap,” Dunsmoor said.
It’s the school district’s property; he wouldn’t do any work that they didn’t want him to do, he added.
Hoefer said Dunsmoor should be applauded for volunteering to do the work, not forced to sign any legal documents.
“All I was going to do is purpose we name it the John Dunsmoor Field. I think this is the greatest thing I’ve seen since chocolate milk!” he said.
He was ashamed and embarrassed that the district wanted Dunsmoor to sign a legal document, he added.
“We should thank John and give him a plaque for his wall. But, we’re sitting here splitting hairs. My attitude toward this is just tear it up and throw it away,” he said rending his copy of the proposed agreement. “We don’t need a long drawn out (legal document). We can protect John. This is nonsense.”
Hoefer referred to the liability agreement as legal mumble-jumble.
If somebody was building a house, they’d certainly want that ‘mumble-jumble,’ White interjected.
Hoefer than contradicted White and White shouted, “Knock it off, no one wants to listen to ya!”
As Hoefer tried to yell, I’m not done! back across the table, Board President Sam Tripp pounded the gavel ordering both men to quiet down.
“Knock it off, both of ya!” Tripp demanded. “If you can’t sit here and speak civilly, then you can leave.”
“Tell him to leave,” White said.
“I am being civil,” Hoefer said.
“Speak civilly or don’t speak at all,” Tripp told them.
“I’m being heated, but I’m civil,” Hoefer replied. “This is not rocket science. We don’t have to have a 30-day discussion, 6 attorneys, and an army of guards.”
Tripp had to leave the meeting for a prior scheduled appointment.
Board Vice President Jim Tschudy took over and proposed a short recess for Stanley and Dunsmoor to sit down together and come to a compromise regarding the agreement.
Within about 15 minutes the two men returned and the meeting resumed.
The board voted 5-1 to accept the Buc Boosters’ donation of tillage and grading of Joe Wilber Field in preparation to re-sod the field.
The vote was 4-1 approving Dunsmoor doing the prep work. White cast the lone no votes.
The vote tally was repeated as the board approved buying 72,720 square feet of sod from Sky High Turf Farms for $18,180; it was the lowest of three bids received.
Work will get under way immediately in an attempt to have the field in playable condition for the upcoming fall sports season.